Oh graphene, we hardly knew your high conductivity and two dimensional surface, and now you may be replaced. Well, at least in some scenarios, if researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are correct about a prediction concerning stanene, a two dimensional form of tin. The name comes from the Latin word for tin, stannum, and the suffix used in graphene.
This latest work originated from a search for topological insulators. These are a special class of materials that conduct electricity along their surface without a speed limit, but resist electrical currents through their volume. Several of these materials have been discovered before, but none have had the necessary properties for use at room temperature. Knowing to look in the lower-right portion of the periodic table, the researchers have found that two-dimensional tin with some fluorine atoms should be a topological insulator at temperatures as high as 100 ºC.
If stanene were used in electronics, such as the wiring within microchips, we could see a significant drop in power consumption and heat, as an electrical current would travel with 100% efficiency. Of course, there is a lot of work to be done before then, including confirming the researchers predictions, and then, if accurate, developing a reliable means to manufacture stanene, which will not be easy.